If a demonstration to the importance of Xavi was ever needed, yesterday was the perfect example. David Villa scored a wonderful goal, Lionel Messi did his thing with a little bit of help from lady luck. Still, Real Madrid dominated the First leg of the Super Cup, which is something between a friendly and a league match. After a slightly dull start to the season in England, this was the bang we needed to tell us football is back.
I don’t remember the last time Real Madrid were able to dominate the match for most of the way against Barcelona. Again, with Xavi sitting on the bench until the 58th minute, with Barcelona playing with a patched up centre – Javier Mascherano as centre back, Keita and Thiago in the midfield, it was much easier for Real Madrid to finally take over a Clasico.
Real Madrid did look better than Barcelona during the pre season, and looked better yesterday. No more counter attacking, but a lot more pressure and attempt to mirror Barcelona’s short passing style, as much as possible. The team’s fantastic speed on the wings with Benzema and Di Maria isn’t gone as well, despite the change of style and pace, leading to the first goal from Mesut Ozil.
Alexis Sanchez had a lukewarm debut, but he can ask David Villa – it takes time settling in with the best side in the world. Pedro would have been a safer option to start with, but Super Cups are also here to let teams experiment. Real Madrid were with their strongest lineup more or less. Kaka didn’t get to play, Fabio Coentrao and Jose Maria Callejon, the new guys in yesterday’s side got just over 30 minutes of playing time.
The game did have its heated moments, as expected – Sami Khedira nearly taking Abidal’s head off by mistake, Marcelo with a little kick into Lionel Messi who made quite a scene and spectacle from the whole things, penalty claims from both sides. If it wasn’t the super cup but a La Liga or Champions League match, I’m sure things would have escalated to a much uglier level.
Still, Jose Mourinho is beginning his psychological wars with Guardiola early this year, not showing up for the press conference after the match. He sent Aitor Karanka instead of him to complain about the referees.
Pep seemed content with the result (obviously with Real Madrid taking 17 shots at goal compared to Barcelona’s 2) and his team’s ability this early in the season – It’s true that Real got more chances than us, and I can’t say if we were lucky or not to come away with a good result, but I’m certain that in the Camp Nou the fans will push us forward and hopefully to victory.
Real Madrid look like the sharper side right now, but their pre season preparations were done with most of the first team players playing. Barcelona toured the United Stated with plenty of subs and youngsters in the lineup each night. No excuses for them though, it’s not like this group is playing together for the first time.
Oh, and maybe by Wednesday a certain player named Cesc Fabregas, who should be getting his clearances at this moment after a physical, will be making his long awaited debut for the Barcelona senior side, 8 years after he left for Arsenal.